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Lobbying Update: Another Week, Another Brexit Argument

In this week’s lobbying update, find out more about how issues for touring musicians were covered in yesterday’s debate in parliament and what the MU intends to focus on moving forward.

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By Isabelle Gutierrez Published: 20 January 2021 | 5:29 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
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The sheer number of MPs who stood up in parliament yesterday and spoke on behalf of musicians in their constituency was impressive and encouraging.

Another week another Brexit argument between the UK and the EU. The two sides are still disagreeing over who is responsible for the lack of agreement over touring musicians in the post-Brexit world.

Having reported last week that Minister for Culture Caroline Dinenage had said that the UK’s proposals had been based on the MU’s Musicians’ Passport idea, she repeated this assertion in parliament yesterday – no less than five times.

At the same time, the MU has seen correspondence from EU negotiator Guy Verhofstadt that says that the UK’s offer was based on mode 4 commitments. Without getting too technical – if this is correct then the UK proposal was definitely not what the MU was asking for, as it would leave EU countries open to applying their own work permits if they saw fit.

We wrote to Caroline Dinenage yesterday requesting an urgent clarification on this point as well as the publication of the details of the proposals and counter proposals.

During the debate in parliament yesterday, however, the Minister said very clearly that the EU proposals had been less than ideal for performers in that they would have covered ad hoc performances only, would not have covered technicians or other crew members and, crucially, would not have exempted musicians from the need for work permits.

Increased publicity is reason to be hopeful

Although these exchanges do nothing to clarify the situation for musicians, who remain angry and uncertain of what will be required for future touring in the EU, the publicity that this issue is receiving both in and out of parliament is reason to be hopeful that an agreement can still be struck.

The sheer number of MPs who stood up in parliament yesterday and spoke on behalf of musicians in their constituency was impressive and encouraging, and credits all those MU members who have been writing to their MPs.

Our General Secretary Horace Trubridge also attended a meeting with Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today, and there are plans to set up a working group.

The MU is now focussed on three priorities:

  1. Obtain clarity on the actual proposals made and rejected by both sides and put together an ask that might be acceptable to both sides
  2. Lobby the UK Government to return to the table
  3. Lobby the EU and individual EU Governments through European musicians’ organisations to bring them back to negotiations

Take action now

Add your voice to ours – write to the Prime Minister and your MP. Even if you have already done this on multiple occasions, please consider doing it again. Your views are having an impact – as demonstrated by the increasing numbers of debates in parliament on this issue.

Please do let us know if you lose work as a result of Brexit by emailing These are vital case studies that we can take to the Government, who always ask for proof of the issues that we highlight to them.

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